Published Online: September 8, 2009

Ohio Schools Struggle With Educating Juvenile Sex Offenders

Ohio school districts are working to balance the rights of juvenile sex offenders to get a public education with the safety of other students and staff.

The Springboro school district in southwest Ohio is tutoring an 18-year-old student at home in part because of the violence of the student's crimes, which were committed several years ago.

This tutoring costs about $10,000 — about $2,000 more than if the student attended regular classes.

"Safety is No. 1. Education is No. 2," said Superintendent David Baker. "You can't do academics in an unsafe environment."

Baker said there was no way the district could keep the student from enrolling.

Dayton Public Schools place registered juvenile sex offenders at an alternative school for 45 days where the students receive counseling, then move them into regular schools across the district.

Dayton has five sex offenders enrolled this year, said schools spokeswoman Melissa Fowler.

Districts have to be careful about pulling out or segregating students regardless of the reason, said Scott Blake, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Education.

The Ohio Department of Youth Services released 81 sex offenders under the age of 18 in the past year.

Xenia schools might allow a sex offender into regular classes or to attend The Academy, where classes are held near the juvenile-court complex for kids with special needs.

School officials also can suggest a home-based alternative, Superintendent Jeff Lewis said. The district is careful to protect the privacy of the offenders, telling only those in the district that need to know about their status.

Miamisburg schools look at educational options from taking classes online to sitting in a regular classroom. The district would not say if it had any juvenile sex offenders currently enrolled.

The district considers many factors when an offender has to take classes, said Miamisburg spokeswoman Jennifer Jones.

"Most importantly the safety of the general student population, the safety of the returning student, and the safety of staff," Jones said.

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